Washington: In what is being read as a development of significance, the Government of Pakistan has agreed to cut off support to leading terror groups like the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), while the United States has welcomed the several steps taken by Islamabad to counter terrorism, including the detention of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) leader Maulana Masood Azhar.
This major development has found indirect mention in the joint statement issued at the end of the sixth ministerial-level Pakistan-U.S. Strategic Dialogue.
While noting the reference to the terror groups JeM and LeT, senior U.S. analysts said this statement by Pakistan could be “a form of window dressing to mislead the West.”
The real test, they said, would come after verification of Pakistan’s true intents, as in the past also such deceptions have been targeted at Western Governments.
The American delegation was led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, while the Pakistan delegation was led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.
Referring to the Pakistan-based terrorist groups, “Advisor Aziz affirmed the Government of Pakistan’s resolve to take effective action against United Nations-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including al-Qa’ida, the Haqqani Network, and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and its affiliates, as per its international commitments and obligations under United Nations Security Council resolutions and the Financial Action Task Force,” the joint statement issued after the talks, said.
Noting the steps taken by Pakistan to date, including the detention of Maulana Masood Azhar, the United States delegation appreciated Prime Minister Sharif’s stated commitment to take prompt and decisive action on this investigation and to bring the perpetrators of the January 2, 2016 attack on the Pathankot air base in India’s Punjab state to justice.
The joint statement also agreed that both sides would take effective action against all violent extremists, and specifically underscored the view that no country’s territory should be used to destabilize other countries.
Both countries reaffirmed their commitment to countering terrorism, including by targeting all terrorists without discrimination. The United States and Pakistan committed to continue promoting peace, stability, and transparency in the region and to eliminate the threats posed by violent extremism and terrorism.
The two delegations also said they looked forward to the upcoming Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism Working Group meeting where both would work together to further bolster Pakistan’s judicial and law enforcement authorities capacity to enforce the rule of law and combat terrorism, including the financing of terrorism.
Both sides underscored the need for effective action against all violent extremists that threaten regional security. The United States expressed appreciation for the role Pakistan has played in helping to degrade al-Qa’ida and its affiliates. Pakistan reaffirmed its commitment to taking action, in line with the country’s National Action Plan, to ensure that the Taliban are unable to operate from Pakistani soil.
Acknowledging the emerging terrorist threat posed by ISIL/Da’esh in the region, the U.S. and Pakistani delegations agreed that their countries should work closely together to counter this threat of mutual concern, and affirmed their commitment to combat the extremist ideology that fuels such groups.
Pakistan reiterated its firm resolve not to allow ISIL/Da’esh to develop a foothold in its territory, and the United States expressed its appreciation for Pakistan’s efforts in this regard.
The two sides underscored the imperative of quickly catalyzing direct peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban to end the bloodshed and preserve Afghanistan’s unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.
According to the joint statement, Secretary Kerry welcomed Pakistan’s calls on the Taliban to seek a negotiated settlement to end the Afghan conflict and its constructive role in establishing an important regional initiative like the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) that brings together representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and the United States to achieve the shared objective of initiating peace negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban.
It was agreed that all members of the QCG will intensify their efforts to forge broader regional consensus in support of the Afghan-led reconciliation process as the best way to bring peace and stability to the region. (ANI)